U.N. Pakistan meeting seen as climate damage test

STORY: U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for massive support to help Pakistan rebuild after last year's devastating floods.

Islamabad's quest for international support is seen as a test case for who pays for climate disasters.

In Geneva on Monday (January 9), Guterres called on officials from some 40 countries - as well as private donors and international financial institutions - to find creative ways to help developing countries with debt relief and financing.

“We also need to right a fundamental wrong. Pakistan is doubly victimized by climate chaos and a morally bankrupt global financial system. That system routinely denies middle-income countries the debt relief and concessional funding needed to invest in resilience against natural disasters.”

Last year's floods caused by record monsoon rains and melting glaciers killed at least 1,700 people and displaced about 8 million. The waters are still receding.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called for a new "coalition of the willing", saying the country needed $8 billion over the next thre amabad will provide the rest.

"Excellencies, it is clear that Pakistan’s ability to recover from the colossal flood disaster, to restore critical infrastructure and revive rapid economic growth, will hinge substantially on the speed of these actions and the most important link in this chain will be financial resourcing.”

Pakistan was at the forefront of efforts that led to the establishment of a "loss and damage" fund to cover climate-related destruction at COP27 in Egypt, but it is not yet clear if it will be eligible.

Guterres said he was deeply frustrated with the inaction of global leaders and lack of international investment to counter climate emergencies.

Additional funding is crucial to Pakistan amid growing concerns about its ability to pay for imports such as energy and food, and to meet sovereign debt obligations abroad.